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Andy Crouch

The Best a Man Can Get

In search of the perfect shave.

As the "tech editor" for NBC's Today Show, Corey Greenberg spends most of his on-air time shilling for the latest technological gadgets. (Literally, shilling—last April the Wall Street Journal revealed that several technology companies had paid him handsomely for his promotional efforts.) He can tell you why you need a video iPod, what you're missing without satellite radio, and where to put the fifty-inch flat screen tv. But on January 29, 2005, he was enthusiastically undermining half a century's worth of high technology.

In the Today Show studio, Greenberg lathered up his face with English shaving cream and a badger brush, whipped out a vintage double-edge razor, and made a passionate case that the multi-billion-dollar shaving industry has been deceiving its customers ever since 1971, when Gillette (no small advertiser on network television) introduced the twin-blade razor. Everything you need for a fantastically close and comfortable shave, Greenberg said, was perfected by the early 20th century.

With his Today Show segment, Greenberg became the highest-profile convert to "wet shaving." He is still one of its most fervent evangelists, with—what else?—a blog, www.shaveblog.com. At 120,000 words and counting, Greenberg's blog could best be described as gonzo shave journalism. He explores every nook and, for that matter, nick of the wet shaving experience, whose defining elements are a single sharp blade (whether ensconced in a safety razor or exposed in the fearsome straight-edge), a brush, soap, and lots of hot water.

But Greenberg's blog is just the most visible salient of a movement that has all the ingredients to reach its tipping point. I first discovered this utterly retro trend on the über-geek Web site del.icio.us, where most links tend to point to topics like "Javascript" and "hardware" (the computer kind). There are the requisite Internet forums populated by enthusiastic "shave geeks" and several specialty retailers that are selling more ...

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